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Hullabaloo


Saturday, July 19, 2014

 
President John McCain

by digby

Here's your honest truth-telling Maverick:

“You’ll find this surprising,” he said, “but I think I would’ve been more reluctant to commit American troops.”

McCain was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq; one of his sons fought in the war.

“If presented with that same evidence today, I would vote the same way,” McCain said of his vote to deploy troops in the country. “I respected and trusted the Secretary of State, Colin Powell. But it’s obvious now, in retrospect, that Saddam Hussein – although he had used weapons of mass destruction – did not have the inventory that we seem to have evidence of. Which now looking back on it, with the benefit of hindsight, (the evidence) was very flimsy.”

If he had been president, McCain said, “I think I would have challenged the evidence with greater scrutiny. I think that with my background with the military and knowledge of national security with these issues that I hope that I would have been able to see through the evidence that was presented at the time.”

McCain specifically cited one of the sources of the faulty intelligence. “The guy named ‘Curveball’ that we were relying on turned out to be some guy in a German prison that was an alcoholic.”

The senator noted, “I’m not blaming President George W. Bush. It’s not for me to critique my predecessors, especially those that I lost to.”

Yeah, he would have "seen through" all this and wouldn't have invaded even though he'd been desperate for an opportunity to do it for more than a decade:
Throughout the late ’90s, McCain criticized what he called Clinton’s “feckless photo-op foreign policy,” but he also emerged as an important bulwark for the administration against Republicans who reflexively opposed Clinton’s every move as commander in chief. McCain strongly supported airstrikes against Sudan and Afghanistan, in retaliation for terrorist attacks on two American Embassies, and against Iraq, where Saddam Hussein was obstructing weapons inspectors. In 1999, McCain took the lead in supporting the bombing of Serbia to prevent another genocide in Kosovo. His tone had changed considerably since the days before Srebrenica. “Our interests and values converge clearly here,” McCain said in a speech from the Senate floor. “It seems clear to me that Milosevic knows no limits to his inhumanity and will keep slaughtering until even the most determined opponent of American involvement in this conflict is convinced to drop that opposition.”

By the time McCain ran for president in 2000, he was the one arguing in debates for a more robust military presence in humanitarian crises, while George W. Bush forswore “nation building” and vowed a more “humble” foreign policy. During that campaign, McCain introduced the closest thing he had found to a doctrine for foreign intervention: the “rogue-state rollback,” under which he proposed arming and training internal forces that might ultimately overthrow menacing regimes in countries like Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

McCain’s more ambitious view of American power made him a natural ally of neoconservative thinkers like William Kristol, the editor of the fledgling Weekly Standard (now a New York Times columnist), and Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Empowered during the Reagan era, the neocons were largely shoved aside during the ’90s by the more isolationist, anti-Clinton voices who dominated Republican politics. By the time McCain expanded his circle of influence to include Kristol and other neocons in the late ’90s, they had rallied around a single unifying cause: the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. In 1998, McCain was one of the sponsors of the Iraq Liberation Act, signed into law by Bill Clinton, which officially changed American policy from containing Hussein to deposing him, and he became a leading figure in the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a lobbying group founded by Randy Scheunemann, who is now his chief foreign policy adviser. McCain met with Ahmad Chalabi, the smooth Iraqi dissident who was a favorite of the neocons, and supported him publicly.

After the terrorist attacks of 2001 and the sudden elevation of Al Qaeda as a defining national security threat, McCain never had any doubt that Iraq, with its supposed capability to unleash or share weapons of mass destruction, posed an existential threat to the United States. Reading his statements from the time, there is no indication that he ever judged the invasion of Iraq by the standard he had used earlier in his career — whether it had the potential to become another Vietnam. Instead, as American troops swarmed Baghdad, McCain repeatedly compared Hussein to Adolf Hitler and predicted that the occupation of Iraq would be remembered in much the same way that history celebrated the liberation and rebuilding of Europe and Japan.
See? No reason to believe the warmongering piece of work would have seized the opportunity to invade.

But setting all that aside, you have to love this:
"It’s not for me to critique my predecessors, especially those that I lost to."
He certainly has no problem criticizing Obama --- to whom he also lost. But from the sound of it he doesn't know that. He refers to George W. Bush as his "predecessor." Somebody needs to tell President McCain the bad news.


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